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Topic: Sibelius or Finale?

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  1. #1

    Sibelius or Finale?

    I want to buy a high-end notation program and am pondering whether to buy Sibelius or Finale. I had made up my mind to buy Finale after reading composer Jeffery Cotton's scathing critique and comparison of Finale and Sibelius, which gives a huge nod to Finale. It is available online at:

    http://www.jefferycotton.net/info.asp?pgs=hairpin

    BUT---I downloaded the demo version of Finale and the fonts didn't work. My display had a staff with garbage letters everywhere. The fonts were installed properly, but they didn't show up in any font menus (including Finale's) or font managers. After struggling for two hours I gave up.

    Then I downloaded the demo version of Sibelius Professional 4 and wow! What a difference. First of all, there were four very professional, informative videos introducing the main functions of Sibelius, then I was able to display the quick start files effortlessly, make all kinds of edits using a very transparent interface, import MIDI, print out a score, and just about everything else one would want to do, including playing my MIDI files.

    I am very disposed to buy Sibelius now after this positive experience. But before I do, I was wondering if there is any advantage in terms of GPO compatibility with Sibelius or Finale? I know that Finale is now bundling GPO instruments with their latest version, which means they have good taste at least, but if their promotional demo is such an impossible mess, I am bit reluctant to spring for the full version. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Thanks,

    Bill Boletta

  2. #2

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    For the very reasons you mention, I would go for Sibelius. In my personal opinion, you won't get anything better .... It's like the PC/Mac debate, it's up to you to decide. I think the two programs do more or less the same things with more or less the same quality. But your first, and positive experiences, should be the ones that make YOU decide.

    Kind Regards

    LouisD

    PS: I would go for Sibelius .... unless you want something better, then go for Overture4.......

  3. #3

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Quote Originally Posted by wlbwlb
    I want to buy a high-end notation program.
    I believe Sibelius is getting closer, but all reports (from dual users of Sibelius and Finale) Finale indicate that you only get complete control over all aspects of notation with Finale.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlbwlb

    BUT---I downloaded the demo version of Finale and the fonts didn't work.
    Have you restarted windows since installing the demo?

    Quote Originally Posted by wlbwlb

    Then I downloaded the demo version of Sibelius Professional 4 and wow! What a difference. First of all, there were four very professional, informative videos introducing the main functions of Sibelius,
    In the full non-demo version of Finale, there are a number of Quickstart Videos and Tutorials to get you going.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlbwlb
    make all kinds of edits using a very transparent interface, import MIDI, print out a score, and just about everything else one would want to do, including playing my MIDI files.
    All of these functions are common to both Sibelius and Finale.

    Quote Originally Posted by wlbwlb
    Any suggestions would be welcome.
    I have been using Finale for 6 or 7 years, and I have never come across a notation requirement that was not possible.

    One of the biggest things I like about Finale is the "scroll view" option which makes inputting and editing music so much easier than being retricted to just "page view".

    The general concensus on comparing Sibelius to Finale is that it would appear that Finale has the edge on versatility perhaps at the expense of casual usibility, and Sibelius has the edge on newbie ease of use and automation at the expense of total control of output. i.e. you'll get going quicker with Sibelius, but you'll have more control over your notation in the long run with Finale.
    Richard N.

    Finale 2003 to 2007 ~ Garritan GPO, JABB & Strad ~ Sonar 6PE ~ Kontakt 2 ~ WinXP Home SP2

    Athlon XP 2200 ~ 1.5 Gb RAM ~ M-Audio Sound Card ~ M-Audio 88ES MIDI keyboard ~ Evolution MK-461C

    Bach Strad LT16MG, LT36G, 42B + B&H Sovereign Studio Tenor Trombones ~ Holton 181 Bass Trombone ~ Getzen Bass Trumpet ~ Yamaha TR4335G Trumpet ~ B&H Euphonium

  4. #4

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    I'm a long-time Finale user, but I suggest you also consider Overture 4.

    There's a demo available on that site.

  5. #5

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Upon second reading of your post, I should also mention that if you're interested in GPO compatibility, you won't find anything better than Overture 4. It has full VST support, not the half-baked support that Finale has.

    For instance, even though Finale boasts of bundled GPO sounds, you can't even save your project as an audio file using those built-in sounds. You have to use the Finale softsynth instead. Makemusic claims that this will be fixed in an upcoming patch, but I'm not holding my breath.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Bill,

    Obviously something went wrong with your Finale demo installation. Try re-installing, or contact Make Music tech support. It does work. Users of each notation program are happy with their own choice and usually very passionate about it as well. What are your specific needs in a high end program?

    Finale is the industry standard currently, and can handle just about any notation requirement. Some people say Finale is hard to learn. And to truly master the program, it does take time. But if you go through the tutorials in a weekend, you'll be in fine shape. Finale is more menu orientated and uses the mouse a lot. GPO integration is great now, and integration with other Garritan libraries is planned for the future.

    Sibelius claims to be more intuitive, and many of it's users feel that it is. Sibelius uses keyboard commands more and doesn't use the mouse as much. Sibelius makes a lot of notation decisions for you. Some people like this about the program, others don't. (i.e., Jeffery Cotton)

    Overture 4 is the leader with respect to sample integration and midi editing, but currently doesn't offer as many notation options as the other two. For example in a woodwind part that starts on flute and switches to clarinet, this change of transposition on a single staff is not something that you can do easily in Overture.

    Lastly, do you ever have the need to collaborate or exchange music files with anyone else? If so, sometimes compatibility is the most important reason to use a specific program.

    Good luck,
    Jeff

  7. #7

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Your real question is probably ultimately not as simple as F or S. You don't mention if you plan to use a sequencer. The answer would depend on your criteria.

    I think every program has its strong and weak points. Our uncomfortable job as users is to try to determine which one is the most acceptable compromise for the specific job(s) we want to do. In my observation, none of the notation programs lives up to the promise of its advertising.

    As for Cotton's review: It's one-sided. He should use neither Finale nor Sibelius but rather SCORE, which produces the kind of controllable, traditional and aesthetic output he wants. See http://www.scoremus.com/

    I learned SCORE over 20 years ago at the side of Leland Smith (a former professor of mine, no relation) himself, and it indeed produced excellent and minutely controllable output, but it was pre-WYSIWYG and slow and difficult to use. YOu had to memorize a lot of commands. Although Finale looked easier and quicker, I once won a monitored speed contest with a Finale user--scoring a short excerpt of piano-vocal music. I understand that SCORE's interface is better now but still not as intuitive as Finale or Sibelius, or Overture. However, if there is room for more than one program in the budget, consider SCORE for final printed output. Smith sells little apps that will convert Finale or MIDI (which Sibelius will produce) output to SCORE for final tweaking and printing.

    I bought SIbelius 3 this year because a friend who uses Finale said Sibelius was going to be easier. The user interface and output are pretty good, if imperfect. Fundamentally I like Sibelius, but with reservations. Sibelius does crowd lines in large scores (my trumpet and trombone stems and flags overlap when the bones go up high) , but there are probably ways around that that I have not figured out yet.

    As for GPO compatibility, Sibelius can work fairly well. However, there is a significant learning curve and a lot of things remain obscure. I run into exasperating problems with almost every new piece I try to play back with GPO. I've been at it half-time for about three months now.

    I have resigned myself to using Sibelius-GPO as an orchestration tool, and to eventually paying a pro or semi-pro engineer to do my final recording since it will take too much time to learn the myriad variables (including all the hardware) to do a professional job myself.

    If GPO compatibility is a major criterion for you, right now the contest may be between Finale and Overture. Don't exclude Sibelius permanently, however. If F and O have better GPO interfaces, you can bet that Sibelius management is talking turkey with Garritan. They'll take a beating in the marketplace if they get far behind. Sibelius 5 will have to improve playback or they're toast. Nobody in a position to say anything can say anything, of course, but I personally have leaned hard on Daniel (Sibelius product manager) to improve the playback interface and I know he has heard the message from many others.

    If money is no object, get Sibelius (or maybe Overture--I don't know the interface for that one) for easier input, SCORE and the MIDI converter for high-quality notation printing, and a sequencer (I haven't used one but Sonar seems to be the most recommended here) for your most-controllable playback and recording.

  8. #8

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Smith
    If money is no object, get Sibelius (or maybe Overture--I don't know the interface for that one) for easier input, SCORE and the MIDI converter for high-quality notation printing
    OR just get Finale 06 for easy input AND high-quality notation printing AND easy GPO integration. Why bother using two programs when you can have it all in one.

  9. #9

    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Ok, I won't start nothin' and they won't be nuthin' But I'm a Sibelius User of 6 years, and I used Finale for about 2 before that, and I just have to speak up in defence of my favorite notation program.

    The truth is there isn't any function of notation (of which I am aware) that can be controlled by finale that can't be controlled by Sibelius. Sibelius can control virtually anything.

    The learning curve does go up. The more specific and unique your notation needs are, the less Sibelius's easy-to-start nature works for you. But an advanced Sibelius user can do anything from George Crumb style modernist pieces to Chorales to Orchestra scores, and maniuplate the position of anything down to the individual "space" (or centimeter if you prefer), on the page.

    By comparison, my conducting teacher recently comprised an anthology of pieces for the class, transcribed in Finale. The half notes had no more distance between them than eighth or quarter notes, a series of four eighth notes had a beam between the middle two, and left the two on the ends unbeamed, and a piano acompaniment with a pickup measure of a quarter note length in the left hand, contained a whole rest for that pickup measure in the right hand. Now a Finale advocate would argue (and he would be correct) that these things are a result of a lack of knowledge where Finale is concerned. But I couldn't help but think that if he had Sibelius, he wouldn't have to know how to put more space behind a note of greater value, or beam a set of eighths correctly. Sibelius does most things like that automatically in accordance with either default settings, or user defined presets; ALL of which are completely customizable.

    I'm not saying you should buy Sibelius and not Finale. Obviously Finale wouldn't have so many loyal and devoted users if it was junk. But for my money, I don't do enough notational things that are outside the mainstream for Finale's versatitlity to work for me. My impression when I shopped for notation software was: Sibelius makes everyday things very very easy, but has a learning curve where more unusal things are concerned; Finale has everything at the same difficulty level: HARD.


    Hope that helps ....err....someone
    MsP

  10. #10
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: Sibelius or Finale?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Smith
    As for Cotton's review: It's one-sided. He should use neither Finale nor Sibelius but rather SCORE, which produces the kind of controllable, traditional and aesthetic output he wants. See http://www.scoremus.com/

    I learned SCORE over 20 years ago at the side of Leland Smith (a former professor of mine, no relation) himself, and it indeed produced excellent and minutely controllable output, but it was pre-WYSIWYG and slow and difficult to use. YOu had to memorize a lot of commands. Although Finale looked easier and quicker, I once won a monitored speed contest with a Finale user--scoring a short excerpt of piano-vocal music. I understand that SCORE's interface is better now but still not as intuitive as Finale or Sibelius, or Overture. However, if there is room for more than one program in the budget, consider SCORE for final printed output. Smith sells little apps that will convert Finale or MIDI (which Sibelius will produce) output to SCORE for final tweaking and printing.





    .
    Can you give me some clue about running SCORE on my XP? I used Sore for a long time, switched to Sibelius 2 years ago. My main problem with Score was and is importing midi files, and MidiscoreWrite does not seem to work well. Score is probably the best notation system. Editing is easy once you learn the program, but input is klutzy.

    I don't think there is much use of Score, which is a shame.

    When I lived in Pacifica, I had a few occasions to visit the CCRMA facility. Also met Leland Smith at Stanford (after he had retired).

    Richard

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